3rd April 2019

Why you need brand identity guidelines

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Marc Swarbrick


Keeping your brand consistent across marketing channels is made much easier with a comprehensive brand guidelines manual.

Modern brands are complex entities and have much more about them than just a logo and some colours. At Abstrakt, we don’t even start anything visual until we’ve done a whole raft of research into the type of personas the brand want to resonate with and have produced a ‘brand proposition’ document. This enables us to have a point of reference for the brand’s personality before we start developing its visual identity and inform our design decisions further down the line.

Next will come elements such as the logo, colours, font choices and photographic or illustrative style (depending on what works for the particular brand). There can even be other things like accompanying graphic elements, icons, advertising styles and that’s before we even get into the amount of digital assets required these days. If you are going to be using social channels (and let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?) we may develop post styles or templates for Instagram and supply rules for what you should and shouldn’t say on Twitter.


To cut a long story short there is an almost endless amount of marketing collateral that is produced and if you’re doing it right, it all needs to be kept consistent. Brand guidelines are how you can ensure that no matter what material is required, be it a billboard advert or an email template, there is a reference manual for how it should look and sound. That means across every touchpoint, current and potential customers have a consistent experience. This is important for many reasons. Imagine if you met someone new and every time you saw them they had a different personality? It would be unnerving to say the least. The same is true for brands that are trying to gain and maintain people’s trust in them, it’s why big brands tend to go for incremental updates rather than all out re-brands.

Brand guidelines logo construction


Going back to the guidelines - another very good reason for them is continuity. We’re under no illusion that we’ll be a brand’s agency for life and while we tend to have very long term relationships with our clients, this isn’t always the case and people want to move on somewhere else to try something new. Having a strong set of brand guidelines will enable your new agency to carry on the good work started and save your brand from having an overnight personality transplant. Assets can also be passed on and in turn, save you money by not having to have them all recreated from scratch again.


A ‘brand guidelines’ document doesn’t have to be a huge scary novel though, in the past there was a trend for the big brands to have enormous manuals that covered absolutely every situation that could arise (they tried at least because that is, of course, impossible). You could be a small coffee shop and only need to have a reference for colours and fonts or you could be an online only business which would require a whole different set of rules to follow.

We tend to follow a standard outline for most clients, including:

— Brand Story
— Keywords
— Brand Identity
— Graphic Assets
— Typography
— Colour Palette
— Mood Board
— Photography
— Tone of Voice
— Quick Copy Checklist
— Word Bank
— Word Blacklist

So whatever your business size, a good set of brand guidelines can help you stay consistent, provide business continuity and make your brand work harder for you. If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised here, chat about an existing brand or start a conversation about a new one, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

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